Earlier I posted a slide about ‘how not to use powerpoint’ – well yesterday as part of the LEAP training we did presentation skills.
It was very good – scratch that – it was brilliant. If only we had done it prior to CORD interviews! We got to see ourselves present – very weird but yet very helpful. I have a tendency to ring my hands and speak really fast.. (the talking really fast I already knew – the other mannerisms I was oblivious too!)
So what was covered? At a very high level. Fundamentals, Structure and Delivery of a presentation.
What it doesn’t cover is any of the tools to visually help your presentation – i.e. powerpoint, in fact the instructor (Ferghal O’Connor) of Synergy BDS doesn’t really like to rely on slides at all. Just a note on Ferghal – he did an absolute fantastic training session. This guy knows his stuff. You often hear “practice what you preach” – Ferghal did it to perfection.
We didn’t use PPT at during the days training. It was great not having to use it – but at the same time I’ve never been dependent on slides. I never have too much text/info in them and usually use them as prompters for the next thing I need to cover. Also embedding videos into them make life really easy! For those who use powerpoint – you really need to check out the “Presentation Zen” – no more death by powerpoint please!
Four bullet points with four words per bullet per ppt is the magic goal. But often unattainable.
Prior to the presentation – do a little self positive talk but not too much or people will think you’re crazy.
Don’t be too formal and don’t memorize the presentation – if something goes wrong and you have a mental block you’ll need to react and move on. Tell stories to paint a picture – bring the audience into your world. Telling stories helps you connect with your emotions and this will show the passion you have for what you’re presenting about. You need to be enthusiastic – if you’re not you will lose the crowd in 20 secs. People generally have an attention span of 20mins max. If your presenting for longer, try and break it up.
Bottom line is.. you need to connect with your audience.. you need to engage them.. interact with them and possibly entertain them.
While presenting.. breath – it’s amazing how we forget the simplest of things. Prior to the presentation take big deep breaths.. keep the shoulders down! I knew suffering from asthma was going to be good for something… knowing how to do deep core breathing really does help!
All stories/presentations have a start, a middle bit and an end. Regardless of the presentation it must have an aim.. a purpose.. why are presenting this? Do you want a sale? Get someone to pilot the technology? To gain Feedback? Secure funding? etc. It must be a clear purpose.
So you need to think about:
- WHO you are presenting to (know your audience)
- What do they want to hear (a Sell or a Tell)
- Where you are presenting it (the venue)
- When (time of day is important)
- Why am I doing this (Your AIM)
- How am I going to put my message across
for every presentation.
So what goes in the Start bit?
- The ‘greeting’ : Good afternoon/morning/evening all
- If comfortable you can add a bit of humour, or a prediction a qoute.. just something to gain a bit interest or curiosity
- Identify yourself.. My name is Joe and I’m the Director of Cauwill Technologies
- Now you need to identify the Aim . I am going to talk to you today in order so that …
- Outline the agenda, identify Topics. First I will talk about … Second … and finally …
- Let the audience know how long the presentation will be
- Let the audience know how you’ll be presenting it..I’ll be using some powerpoint and a video to show you the technology in action
- Let the audience know when you’ll take questions (during or at the end)
Signpost the first topic of the middle bit.
Interesting enough the structure of the middle bit can come from the most unstructure way possible – mind maps.
We’ve used mind maps at Cauwill for sometime and are big fans – but we might not have been using them the best way! One of the exercises was to prepare a business presentation. So with the AIM of the presentation in mind we dumped as many words possible on a blank sheet of paper. Brainstorming with a few people to get as many words (even the most bizzarre ) down is probably the best way to use mind maps.
Once done, take another sheet of paper and extract key points (Topics/parents) you want to convey in the presentation. Link these back to the Aim and associate words from the first sheet as children of the parent word. You can add extra children and sub children if you need. As you start to organise them, you’ll think of more (different) words, add them to the first sheet.
You may need to go away and come back later to the mind map and have another go at it – it’s amazing how a second look improves it.
What you’ve done is in essence is created a skeleton of the middle section with the most important keywords highlighted. Creating a ppt from this is child’s play! Now you can create the stories or the verbal part of the presentation based on the key points under each topic.
As you transitions from topic to topic.. make sure you signpost them i.e. let your audience know you are moving on .. this way they know what’s coming.
Once all the topics are covered signpost the end bit.
The End bit..
Recap what you have cover.. link back to your AIM
- If it’s a Sell presentation
- The original problem (the customer need/industry challenges).
- Your solution, their features.
- The benefits.
Never ever leave a Sell presentation with out a ‘Call to Action’..
- So can we organise to meet again?
- Would you be interested in buying/trying the product?
- May we contact you in the next day or so for your decision?
An entire presentation can be thought of as.. Say what your going to say.. Say it.. Say it again. Which means you only ever need to work on the middle bit!! 2/3’rd of the presentation is automatically done for you! Now doesn’t that make presentations easier and less daunting??
– everyone is different in how they deliver presentations – there is no magic thing you have to do which gaurentees a successful delivery. A couple of things will help you deliver it better:
- Turn off your phone! Empty Pockets.
- Stand properly, bend the knees a little – don’t be off balance
- Stand square to the audience
- Some people don’t know what to do with their hands
- Don’t put them in pockets
- Don’t scratch yourself
- Don’t jingle money, click pens, play with phone in pocket etc.
- The best thing to do with them is keep them in plain view, relaxed. Where ? If you are think of a triangle with two of it’s points at your shoulders and the third point below you crotch .. keeping your hands inside this imaginary triangle is very safe and won’t look odd!
- Find a comfortable ‘parked’ place for hands.. e.g. one hand holding the other hand.
- For those who like to use your hands (like I do) use your hands to emphasive what you are saying verbally.
- ‘First thing, Second Thing… ‘
- We’ve reduced the problem from THIS SIZE … to this size
- Make eye-contact with the audience (share the love – don’t keep going back to the same pretty girl in the crowd!)
- For about 90% of the time
- Eye contact should be 2 or 3 seconds long (don’t freak them out!)
- if you are uncomfortable making eye contact – look at there nose or mouth.. they will never know the difference (only works 3meters + away from the person!)
- Use tone to keep the audience listening (Don’t be mono-tone)
- Speak to the back of the venue
- Pause to emphasize a point
- If you move – move with purpose – and plant yourself again until you move again with purpose (Don’t Random Walk!)
- If you can, use a bit of humor BUT ONLY MAKE FUN OF YOURSELF!
Now for the QA bit that scares the bejeebbus out of some people. Thankfully, presenting infront of a bunch of angry academics wanting to take you down a peg or two over the years has toughen me up on this front.
- Listen until you are sure you understand the question
- Not always needed but – repeat the question (some people behind the person who asked the question might not have heard.. esp if no PA system in place)
- Acknowledge and thank the person who asked the question.. even if you want to throw something at them!
- Answer it to everyone
- Get the person to acknowledge you’ve answered the question (do the Churchill nodding dog at them while making eye contact)
- Move to next question
- In the event of no questions come from the audience – ask yourself one.. or have someone in the audience. .. it’s funny .. while during the coffee break I was chatting to Mr ZXGT and they were wondering if this technology is suitable for the directory enquiries sector.. Then answer you own question!
- If you get the really tough nut – i.e the one that doesn’t want to acknowledge the answer – you’ll need to be tactful and respectful .. ‘with respect to the next speaker/presenter .. is it ok we chat in more detail after this presentation – because I really want to answer you question but we don’t have anymore time..? ‘